Portals of Hope: Using Technology during COVID-19
By David Neidert
“Churches have the opportunity to thrive during this pandemic. Social media, live-streaming, interactive websites, e-mail, texting, and video offer portals of hope for people. We have a reason to celebrate!”
John Falke, founder and creative director of Johnny Flash Productions, sees this global event as a time where churches can engage, inspire, and encourage their congregations. They can also share the gospel with those feeling despair during COVID-19. Falke doesn’t speak to this topic from a business view only. His previous role as creative arts pastor for the Fairfax Community Church of God in Virginia supports his belief the church can use technology in sharing the gospel. Over eleven years, he helped Fairfax Community connect with the public in addition to its own worshippers. He knows the opportunities for all churches at this time, no matter the attendance.
“For sure, larger congregations were already using extensive media. All churches, however, can utilize the tools they have in meeting their own needs and goals during COVID-19,” emphasized Falke. “I personally know churches using a variety of media tools right now. One is using Facebook Live, which is free, fifteen minutes every day at 1 PM for encouraging the congregation. Another is using an iPad with a little microphone for sharing church information. Some are pre-recording messages, then posting them online so they can be viewed on-demand. One church hired a local freelance videographer to help lighten the pastor’s workload. It’s costing them a few hundred dollars a week but it frees the pastor to work more directly with those in the church.”
Falke is watching what is happening across the country via media. “Life.Church announced that for the weekend March 28–29, over 31,000 people accepted Christ on that visual platform. The number represents more than 20,000 church services utilizing the group’s free ChurchOnlinePlatform.com.” In this stressful time Falke rejoices, “there is reason for celebration.”
Falke hopes the lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis will be retained. He wants these media connections to remain once life returns to some semblance of normalcy. From his twenty years of media consulting with churches, he reflects, “Most people will check out a church’s website at least once before they visit for the first time. If they can’t find the information they are looking for or get a taste of the church through content, it’s easier to skip further connection and surf the internet for another church.” He laments while many congregations have effective programming, “many people will not risk spending a few uncomfortable hours on a Sunday morning in your church to only find it’s not a good fit for them or their families.”
Ultimately, Falke encourages churches to tweak websites and employ the various tools available now. “You can do it,” he zealously cheers. “The changes you make at this time will continue having an impact long after this crisis is over. People need Jesus. This season is inviting churches to make a commitment of sharing Jesus by entering the front door your neighbors have opened via media.”
John Falke is the founder and creative director for Johnny Flash Productions (www.johnnyflash.com). He served the Fairfax Church of God in Virginia for over eleven years. He also founded www.openresources.org for churches to download free materials that enhance congregation and pastoral communication.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.
*Feature image (top): John Falke (Johnny Flash) connected through Zoom for a Bible study.